Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often accused the Congress of being "unpatriotic".
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today slammed Congress president Rahul Gandhi for "raising doubts" over the cross-border surgical strike carried out by the Army in September 2016, alleging that the military operation left the opposition party dejected instead of elated.
"When our soldiers came back from the surgical strike, the entire country was filled with pride and nationalistic zeal. The Congress, however, was in mourning. Did you believe that the surgical strike was a fraud when you first heard about it? But the naamdar (aristocrat) sitting in the Congress office accuses me of lying," PM Modi said at an election rally in Sikar, Rajasthan.
Today is the last day of campaigning for the state assembly elections, meant to be held on Friday. The ruling Vasundhara Raje government is said to be facing high anti-incumbency after spending five years in office.
PM Modi's jibe at the Congress comes three days after its president, Rahul Gandhi, accused him of shaping the surgical strike into a "political asset" aimed at covering up the centre's failure to create job opportunities. The opposition leader also claimed that the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government oversaw three surgical strikes, but decided against reducing it to an election issue.
"Surgical strikes were conducted thrice during the Manmohan Singh government. Are you aware of it? Narendra Modi actually reached into the Army's domain and shaped the surgical strike into a political asset," he said, noting how information on the military operation was made public just before the Uttar Pradesh elections.
The war of words between PM Modi and Mr Gandhi has come to a head this polling season, with even the antics of dead ancestors getting drawn into the fray. Earlier today, the Prime Minister alleged that the Kartarpur Shahib Gurdwara — one of the holiest shrines for Sikhs — went to Pakistan during Partition due to the "lack of vision and sensitivity" of then Congress leaders. "The credit for the Kartarpur Corridor (being built under the NDA government) goes to your vote. Correcting Congress mistakes was my destiny," he said at a rally in Hanumangarh.
Later, they sparred over PM Modi's use of the slogan "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" before his election rallies.
(With inputs from Agencies)